I write once again to circulate information on SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps. As you may know, SNAP has become a popular program to demagogue on the campaign trail. Over the past week, I have circulated several Dear Colleagues explaining the basics of how SNAP works and who is eligible. Included in these Dear Colleagues were reports, fact sheets, news articles, and blog posts that detailed why SNAP participation is high and why the program is both efficient and effective.
I encourage you to read the attached Op-Ed from two professors that was recently published in the Los Angeles Times. Titled "Food Stamp Fight," the authors explain why the current rhetoric is harmful and why President Obama should embrace the mantra of Food Stamp President, but not for the reasons you might think. They correctly point out that retailers -- and the economy overall -- benefits from SNAP, that SNAP funds spent at retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, grocery stores and corner markets are funds that are circulated through the economy. This isn't to say that we should encourage people to stay on SNAP. To the contrary, we must do everything we can to increase the amount of jobs available and the quality of these jobs so families can lift themselves out of poverty and off of SNAP. Without those economic opportunities, we need SNAP as a lifeline so that families don't have to make the awful choice between putting food on the table or paying the rent or utilities.
I believe hunger is a political condition. We have the means to solve hunger in America once and for all, but we haven't mustered the political will to do so. Shame on us for not doing more to end this terrible scourge. But even more damaging is the hateful and hurtful rhetoric coming from the campaign trail on this subject. Republicans and Democrats -- conservatives and liberals -- should be able to come together on this issue. It may be difficult to agree on the best prescription for the problem, but there's no question we should be able to agree that the rhetoric being used today has no place in either the political or policy arenas.
I hope this series of Dear Colleagues was informative and helpful for you and your staff. Please do not hesitate to contact me or Keith Stern on my staff if you have any questions or would like to work with me on this important issue.
James P. McGovern
Member of Congress